Cape Town - The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) expressed surprise at President Jacob Zuma
's passing of the e-toll bill into law, but said national roads agency Sanral now faces its biggest hurdle yet - the public's buy-in and acceptance.
"No matter how elegant policies may look on paper, it is not the ticking of regulatory boxes that determines the governability of matters of this nature and magnitude," Outa said in a statement on Thursday.
Outa said with the regulatory box ticked, Sanral may now proceed to launch its "highly unpopular e-toll scheme" in Gauteng.
"With Sanral's current dire financial situation and their claim of readiness, one must assume it will start to toll within two weeks – a claim they have made on a number of occasions in the past," Outa said in a statement on Thursday.
However, even if its appeal ruling goes in favour of Sanral, its biggest hurdle has yet to come - "the public's buy-in and acceptance of a cumbersome and irrational plan", Outa said.
Judgment on whether the e-tolling of Gauteng's freeways should be
reviewed was reserved by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
Buy e-tags now 'to avoid last minute rush'
Sanral CEO Nazir Alli on Thursday welcomed the signing of the bill into law and called upon road users to get their e-tags as soon as possible to avoid the last minute rush.
Ali said Sanral never doubted Zuma's commitment to government policies, and his signing of the bill into law on Wednesday is a confirmation of that commitment.
"We wish to encourage road users to get their e-tags and register now that e-tolling will become a reality,” said Alli.
According to Alli, more than 600 000 vehicle licence plate number (VLN) account units have
already been committed.
Outa said in addition to the widespread rejection of e-tolling from the outset, other matters have come to the fore which further irked the public.
"We are now aware of the excessive profits (in excess of R650m a year) European-based Kapsch TrafficCom will make on the back of Gauteng motorists.
"We also now know that, due to construction company collusion, the roads cost more than they ought to have," Outa said.
Sanral said the new act will facilitate the upgrading and development of the country's transport infrastructure and public transport.
Alli said even more welcome is that toll commencement will reassure investors that the roads agency is able to meet its financial obligations.
“The delay in the announcement of the toll commencement date had put our toll portfolio under pressure. The signing of this law will ease the pressure and eliminate doubt in the minds of many road users who were waiting for certainty around e-tolling,” he said.
The DA meanwhile said Zuma had insulted South Africans by signing the e-toll bill into law on the day the matter was before the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Zuma said he is satisfied with the transport laws and related matters amendment bill, and sees no stumbling blocks in its implementation.
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